Google confirmed to Big Technology on Friday that it fired Blake Lemoine, the engineer who made headlines after claiming the company's LaMDA artificial intelligence had come alive.
Lemoine approached The Washington Post last month, claiming that the conversational technology mimicked the same cognitive ability of "a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics."
"I know a person when I talk to it," Lemoine told the paper. "It doesn't matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head or if they have a billion lines of code. I talk to them, and I hear what they have to say, and that is how I decide what is and isn't a person."
The engineer further claimed the system had developed a rudimentary form of self-awareness, expressed its fear of death, and an assurance that it felt emotions like happiness and sadness.
After going public with the story, Lemoine was put on administrative leave less than a week later. Google later confirmed the dismissal to Big Technology.
"If an employee shares concerns about our work, as Blake did, we review them extensively. We found Blake's claims that LaMDA is sentient to be wholly unfounded and worked to clarify that with him for many months," Google informed the outlet in a statement.
"It's regrettable that despite lengthy engagement on this topic, Blake still chose to persistently violate clear employment and data security policies that include the need to safeguard product information," the company added.
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